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Wildfire Safety

wildfire safety

Wildfire Safety

As our communities grow, more and more people are being exposed to the risk of wildfires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, around 45 million homes and 72,000 communities are at risk of experiencing wildfires. Wildfires can spread rapidly across large areas of land especially during droughts and dry weather conditions.

Here are a few steps you can take prepared for wildfires in your area:

Before a Fire

Understand your risk

  • Talk to your local planning office or fire department to discover what the risk of wildfire is in your area.
  • Find out if your community has a warning system. Local tv and radio will likely have up-to-date information. NOAA weather stations will also provide emergency alerts.
  • Pay attention to local weather conditions and fire risk notices.

Emergency Planning

  • Find out and understand your community’s evacuation plan. If your community doesn’t have a plan, create one for your family, include multiple evacuation routes in case some are blocked.
  • Create an emergency kit and regularly check/restock items. Make sure to include N95 respirators to protect your lungs from harmful particles.
  • Place important documents in your emergency kit, protected digital copies, or a fireproof safe.
  • If possible, create a plan to shelter at a friend or family home outside of the hazard zone. Alternatively, identify shelters available. The Red Cross helps coordinate many of these shelters. You can find a map of active shelters on the Red Cross website here.

Protect your home

  • Maintain landscaping during fire risk. Make sure to clear out dead and overgrown plant life on your property especially anything within 10 feet of your home.
  • Clear out vegetation and debris from roofs, gutters, and under or on top of decks, patios, and porches.
  • Keep your lawn well maintained. Water if you can, if not, keep grasses short and remove clippings as soon as possible. Dry grass is great fuel for fires.
  • Cover attic vents, and eave soffits with wire mesh to prevent the entry of sparks and embers.

During

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest information.
  • Place and outdoor furniture and decorations securely inside your home or as far away as possible.
  • Put your emergency kit in your car ready for evacuation.
  • Use your N95 respirator to protect your lungs.
  • Leave garden hoses connected to outdoor faucets and fill out any large containers around your home such as pools, tubs, even garbage cans. This may help firefighters help put out fires around your home.
  • Evacuate as soon as authorities request you to do so. If possible, leave earlier.
  • If you can’t get out, call 911. Depending on the severity of the fire first responder may be delayed or may not be able to get to you.

After

  • Shelter in a safe location until authorities have deemed it safe.
  • Don’t enter any building until you can confirm it is safe.
  • Avoid ash pits and downed electrical lines.
  • Watch out for hidden embers and hot spots.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear when doing any sort of clean up.

 

For more detail information on wildfire preparedness check out these sources:

American Red Cross: Wildfire Safety

Ready: Wildfires

National Fire Protection Association: Wildfire preparedness tips

 

 

Prepare today the Cascadia way

Is Your Home Ready for an Earthquake?

housing

Is Your Home Ready for an Earthquake?

Preparing an emergency kit is only the first step in preparing yourself for an emergency. While an emergency kit will serve your immediate needs taking steps to prepare your home will reduce risks and minimize damage.

 

Check your insurance coverage

Many homeowner’s policies do not include coverage for earthquake damage potentially leaving you to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages created by an earthquake.

 It is important that you carefully review your property insurance to determine what would be covered in the event of an earthquake. You may be able to add or upgrade your policy to include coverage if you don’t already have it.

 

Secure large furniture

Identify and secure large pieces of furniture to the walls. This can include items such as dressers, bookshelves, desks, and even pictures. By securing these items you reduce the risk of them toppling over during prolonged shaking.

 Secure large electronics to desks, tables, or walls. Not only are these items expensive to replace, but they are often easy to unbalance and can create hazardous debris in the form of glass and metal.

 

Strap and secure appliances

Large heavy appliances moving, like your fridge, oven, and water heater, are also potential hazards when it comes to the big one. Most appliances have rollers on their feet to make them easier to move. Make sure to lock these rollers to prevent unnecessary movement.

 One step better is to secure appliances to the wall using anti-tipping appliance bracket. You can also secure your water heater using straps, easily located at most hardware stores

 

Locate all important utility lines/shutoffs

Make sure your family knows where the main shut off valves for your gas, water, and electricity can be found. Shutting of these utilities in the event of an emergency can protect you from hazardous gas leaks, contamination of your water, and fire risks.

For your gas supply, you may be able to upgrade your connections to flexible fittings or breakaway shut-offs. In the event gas is shut off it should only be turned back on by a certified professional.

 

Reinforce the structure of your home

Many older homes are floating on top of the foundation and not secured properly to withstand earthquakes. Many foundation experts can help with strapping your home to its foundation to help prevent the house from sliding off of the foundation during tremors.

 

Reinforcing other structural elements of your home can also reduce the risk of severe damage and potential injury. You can add extra support to chimneys and masonry to help prevent collapse.

 

More Information:

Check out FEMA’s Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt for more ways to prepare your home.

Enhabit’s Earthquake Preparedness in the Northwest: Homeowner Guide

 

 

Protect Yourself at the Pump

Protect Yourself at the Pump

How to Avoid Coronavirus When Pumping Gas

While staying at home means many of us aren’t driving as much, but we still need gas to get around. This brings up the big question, how can we pump gas in a safe way and protect ourselves from the Coronavirus?

Come Prepared:

First and foremost is come to the gas station prepared. This is where everyday preparation can come in handy. Keep protective gear and supplies so that whenever you go out, whether for gas or groceries, you’ll be ready. Here are a few items to keep on hand:

  • Gloves
  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant (Spray or Wipes)

Stay Protected:

Wear your personal protective equipment. Make sure to put on your gloves and cloth face covering before exiting your car.

Disinfect the pump before using it. Take your disinfecting wipes or spray and sanitize the keypad, pump handle and any other surface you plan you come in contact with. Make sure to follow the product instructions for disinfection. You often need to keep the surface wet using the product for a certain period of time in order for the disinfectant to actually kill the virus. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of cleaner rated to kill the Coronavirus.

Remember to either disinfect your gloves or remove them before getting back in your car after you finish pumping. Viruses the many have come in contact with your gloves while filling up the tank can be transferred onto and into your car if you don’t take this step. Once remove use hand sanitizer or wash your hands as soon as possible.

Maintain Social Distancing:

When you are at the station make sure to adhere to current social distancing practices. Keep at least 6ft between you and anyone else. How can you do this? Pay at the pump instead of entering there the store whether. Entering the enclosed space of a store may mean being exposed to more people increasing the potential of coming in contact with the virus. Chose to fill up during off-hours. Try to avoid busy times at the station to minimize contact with others.

Use self-service options. Using an attendant means putting your trust in the fact that they may or may not have procedures in place to disinfect surfaces between each transaction as well as exposing yourself to close personal contact. Self-service gives you more control over your level of exposure. Having a gas attendant pump your gas only adds an extra point of contact.

 

 

Prepare today the Cascadia way!